The Columbian Exchange Webquest
In this Web Quest, students will research two items involved in the Columbian Exchange to determine the impact of that event on Old and New World cultures. Students will work with a partner to conduct internet research and detail their findings. This lesson can be complemented by a lesson on food of the Columbian Exchange, available here.
Q: What foods, animals, people, diseases and cultural artifacts traveled from Europe with the explorers? What traveled from the Americas back to Europe? In what ways do you think the Columbian Exchange impacted the world? How would life in America be different if the Europeans had never arrived? How do you think life in the Old World (Europe) would be different today if explorers never visited the New World?
Every time you go to the movies and have popcorn, you should thank an explorer. When you bite into a yummy chocolate bar, you should be thanking an explorer! Why, you ask? Because each of those foods came from the New World through what is known as the Columbian Exchange. Food was not the only thing that was shared, though.
The first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492 launched an era of large-scale contact between the Old and the New Worlds. The Columbian Exchange was the dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations (including slaves), communicable diseases, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres (Old World and New World). The Columbian Exchange greatly affected almost every society on Earth. Contrary to its name, this worldwide event did not only take place in 1492 when Columbus came to the Americas. The exchange continued with each subsequent voyage from Europe to the Americas. This means that when Ponce de León, Hernan de Soto, Pánfilo de Narváez and other European explorers traveled to what is now Florida, they brought with them items that had never been seen here before. They also took food, ideas, and even people back with them to the Old World!
Suggested WebQuest Links
The student will recognize impacts of the Columbian Exchange, such as the exchange of agricultural goods, diseases, and ideas between Europe and Americas.
This website is a program of the Florida Humanities Council.